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Average Dementia Survival: 4.5 Years

Study of Dementia Patients Shows Women Live Slightly Longer Than Men

Caring for Those With Dementia

Researcher Murna Downs, PhD, says most people don't recognize that dementia is a disease people live with, and not just a death sentence.

Downs' research focuses on quality-of-life issues among dementia patients.

"People with dementia live a long time, and we now know that there is a lot of awareness," she says. "People assume that if someone doesn't know where they are they have no other capacity for thinking and feeling. But people with dementia continue to think and to laugh and to feel the rain on their faces, and to try to make sense of their world."

She adds that patients are often isolated because family members or other caregivers fail to recognize their need for interaction and stimulation.

"The therapeutic potential of human contact cannot be underestimated," she says. "You would never put a small child in a chair and let them sit there all day with nothing to do. Children need stimulation and human contact and so do people with dementia."

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